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Shit Bougie Black People Love: Washington, D.C.

Every population has a Mecca. A place worthy of praise and pilgrimage. A hallowed ground where all things begin and end. For Muslims, the Mecca is, well, Mecca. For Black basketball players and fans it’s Rucker Park in New York City. For White basketball players and fans it’s wherever the hell in Indiana Hoosiers was filmed.

And, while Atlanta is seen as the Black American Mecca, the D.C./Maryland/Northern Virginia (DMV) area stakes that claim for Bougie Black People (BBP).

When you mention the DMV to a BBP, watch their eyes sparkle, their cheeks rose, their skin blush, and their hair stand. Feel their blood pressure rise when namedropping places like Busboys and Poets, Park, Bohemian Caverns, Oohh’s and Aahh’s, and Sequoia. Listen to how those who don’t currently live there say things like “That’s where I need to be.” while those who do live there make sure to tell every BBP within earshot that “This is where you need to be, man.” Pay attention to how a population drenched in snark and cynicism speak of the DMV with a sincere reverence reserved for season four of The Wire.

To understand why exactly the DMV is so revered by BBP is to understand both BBP and the DMV’s predominate culture.

First, this area is one of the few places in the country where it’s not uncommon to find entire communities full of Black people making at least 75 grand a year. This is largely due to the preponderance of important sounding and largely inessential government-related jobs found here—occupations with titles like “Search Optimization Control Specialist,” “Director of Afro-Latino Coalition Initiatives,” and “President of the United States.”

These types of jobs check each of the BBP’s boxes. They’re usually not accessible unless you possess an advanced degree, making it an immediate BBP status marker. They sound important enough to justify the six figure student loan debt needed to receive that advanced degree. And, it’s the only place on Earth where one can get a good job with a degree in Afro-American Studies.

Also, most government-related organizations have certain quotas that need to be filled, making them particularly friendly to Black people. Since BBP are Black, this benefits them.

The DMV also serves as a hub for several incubators of current and future BBPs—Howard, Hampton, Morgan State, and all the other DMV HBCUs that don’t matter enough to be listed individually—breeding grounds where BBP culture is first indoctrinated. Only Atlanta has a comparable base of prospective BBP, but Atlanta also has Katt Williams. And worms.

When you consider that most of the country’s BBP were able to attend school through Stafford, FAFSA, and Sallie Mae—all federal programs—D.C. is basically the Magwitch to the BBP’s Pip.

Also, it doesn’t hurt that the current real (Barack and Michelle Obama) and fictional (Scandal’s Olivia Pope) benchmarks for BBP life have direct DMV ties. This by itself would be enough to draw BBP to the area. There’s no higher compliment you can pay a BBP than calling one a “younger, nerdier Barack” or a “shorter, browner, hungrier Michelle with Olivia Pope’s calves,” and they’d migrate there just for the hope of somehow being Obama-ed by osmosis.

Most importantly, while certain major cities have their own unique currencies, D.C.—and, by extension, the entire DMV—trades in power and connectivity. People who migrate to D.C. aren’t looking to become rich and/or famous in the same way a person drawn to LA, NYC, or even Chicago might be. There, it’s about “making a difference” and “affecting change”—ultimately, the self-affirming power to influence other people’s lives: the BBP’s most potent aphrodisiac.

That this particular type of power is often gained by being a bit savvier, a bit more competitive, and a bit more socially intelligent than the rest is also key, as your potential for growth is directly tied to your tendency to make better, smarter decisions. BBP would not be BBP if they didn’t possess these skills. The BBPs attraction to D.C. is largely based on the concept that this is the part of the country where their particular skill set is most appreciated.

Yet, while the DMV is filled with BBP, it’s also filled with enough regular Blacks to help BBP still feel somewhat connected to the community. Perfect for BBP looking to impress socially conscious parents or convince friends that he’s still “not all that far removed from the hood, you know.”

All of this combines to produce a place where BBP began to migrate to because it’s BBP friendly. And where BBP continue to migrate to because…

1. It’s filled with enough BBP to feel comfortable

2. It’s filled with enough regular Black people to scare White people.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • Although I’m on the west coast, I *might* have had a conversation about my love for DC and Busboys and Poets earlier today…

    • Terry Odis

      I did a few shows there. I wish Busboys was in more than one city…their owner is trying to run for mayor I think.

    • RIP Hon. Nelson Mandela, respe

      I’m so confused is busboys and poets a group or are actually talking about busboys?!?!

  • Although I’m on the west coast, I *might* have had a conversation about my love for DC and Busboys and Poets earlier today…

  • Sahel

    Hmm,so Rachmo blushes. Curious

  • Sahel

    Hmm,so Rachmo blushes. Curious

    • JayIzUrGod

      She’s got such a cute laugh.

    • Rachmo

      Wait where did this come from?

  • NipseysKlub

    And the way DC proper is shifting, there might no parts left in DC to scare off White people. Gonna have people talking about “see Bmore and Richmond” are the bad parts of DMV but DC is different”

    • Epsilonicus

      Baltimore is not part of the DMV

      • PennyProud

        neither is Richmond

    • afronica

      That’s what PG County is for. No offense to P-Jack. Or not much offense…

  • Msdebbs

    Naw I’m good. I rather stay down here in warm sunny Florida while you BBP suffer in all that cold snow.

    • Well, at least it isn’t 98 with 98% humidity in April. Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

      • you say 98 with 98% humidity like that’s a BAD thing? I love tropical weather. Bring it. Me and my fro ain’t never scared.

        • hot and sticky is only good under 2 conditions. One of them is pizza.

          • Sahel

            And who dont enjoy it when it’s hot and sticky

          • lol. I won’t ask for the other one. i grew up in Tampa, but I’ve lived in colder climates, too…FL takes the prize on weather for me.

            • SuperStrings

              You must really like the heat. I’ll take San Diego’s climate, but without San Diego. lol

          • vanitaapplebum

            “hot and sticky is only good under 2 conditions. One of them is pizza.”
            This belongs on a t-shirt.

    • WIP

      Don’t tell them anything; we don’t need any more transplants, lol

  • Liz

    Hmm. I dunno. I’m pretty bougie and nothing in the DMV really attracts me. The fact that there are so many black people, and the social circles seem to be hyper connected (ie everybody is in everybody’s business) is what turns me off. sounds suffocating from what I’ve observed. I think I’d only want to live there if I wanted a career in politics/gov’t etc etc.

    Some bougie black people really don’t wanna be bothered by blacks outside of their immediate social circle. from what i’ve heard. lol.

    • Msdebbs

      I think that everybody is in everybody’s business thing is universal no matter where on earth you reside.

      • SuperStrings

        That’s how Charlotte was. All the black professionals knew each other, who everyone had dated or was dating, who was cheating, everything.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          That’s when they ask you “What’s yos daddy’s name is” and they’re able to run back your family tree.

    • JayIzUrGod

      Then you’re not really bougie, you’re just a Black person with standards. Interesting dichotomy between the two.

    • Being from GA, I always hear that ATL is like that. Lot of ppl, but everyone runs in the same circles.

    • This is why I like New York. If I want to do the dip and hang with another group, I can do that with ease. Plus there’s the fact there are almost as many Black people in the NY area as there are people, period, in the Atlanta area. :)

    • Rachmo

      I must be in a bubble of some sort. I feel like i have a really diverse group of friends but maybe that’s bc I make the effort to get out of my comfort zone.

    • afronica

      This is true but also not true. Everyone seems to know everyone else, but that’s because all of those people go to the same 15 bars, clubs and restaurants. It’s cool to dip toes in that pool, but as long as you also follow your own interests around here, you meet other people from other circles. And that keeps things interesting.

      • brooklandite


        dont be afraid to go somewhere other than park or bar7

  • was that dig at other dmv area HBCUs only because you couldn’t name anymore? otherwise i agree with this. with the way gentrification is going white people aren’t gonna be afraid of anyone in city limits. i consistently see white people walking dogs in SE after midnight. i’m from the area so all of this is rings true. lolol i hate most of the places you listed tho especially park. i probably will never go there again under my own free will.

    • afronica

      Amen on Park. Yeesh.

  • TheInvisibleEnigma

    There are only two things I like about DC: mambo sauce and go-go from 90s.

    I used to like DC. Growing up it was like hey, we all Maryland, so we all cool. A lot of my friends are from DC and we still cool. It was only within the last few years that I realized I actually despise DC, and I don’t even know why.

    I hate the transplants. I hate when people say I’m from DC. I hate people from Maryland and Northern Virginia who say they’re from DC. I hate the Redskins. I hate Redskins fans. I hate the traffic. I hate how bougie DC people are. I hate how DC people speak of Maryland like it’s some faraway place halfway across the country. I hate the Nationals. I begrudgingly root for the Capitals because Baltimore doesn’t have a team. I hate that I have to drive through DC when I come home to visit, and again when I leave. I hate ninjas with cars, I hate ninjas with shoes, I hate the air. That’s what real hate is about.

    I think I’ve just finally developed the Baltimore Inferiority Complex.

    • iamnotakata

      Damn you low key killin my DC high…so about your hate for transplants? how deep does that go? Lol b/c I might be one in a year or two..

    • JayIzUrGod

      I haven’t lived in DC in 9 years, and MD for 7, yet these are all of my feelings wrapped in a pretty bow. Such eloquence. Except mambo sauce…I still haven’t figured that sh ^t out, it aint that serious to me.

    • Rachmo

      “I think I’ve just finally developed the Baltimore Inferiority Complex”- yuuuuuuup

    • JanePittman

      You know DMVers don’t even consider Baltimore to be a part of a foreign land, lol!

    • Scoop

      Everything you said makes sense once you said you were from Baltimore…

  • Ooh’s and Ahhh’s is so overrated though. I remember first moving to DC and having people rant and rave over it being authentic southern cooking that would truly knock my socks off. No. It didn’t. Carolina Kitchen is delicious however.

    • brendadc

      Yes- I love Carolina Kitchen!

      • Any true southerner can attest to this establishment selling bland greens and chicken and slapping the word “Southern Cooking” on the menu.

        • afronica

          Yes. Carolina Kitchen is the palest of imitations. Get a Southerner to throw down for you, and you might not be able to set foot in that establishment again.

    • Shay-d-Lady

      ohhhs and ahhhs is very overrated. My macaroni was sticky and some random dude i met there while apparently intoxicated still sends me random “thinking of you” messages. Definitely not worth the wait or the money.

      • SuperStrings

        “Definitely not worth the wait or the money.”
        Plus, stalkers can ruin any experience for a lifetime. lol

    • Rachmo

      I love Carolina Kitchen too!

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